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Danny Chan La, Deseret Morning News
Heather Groom, left, husband Brent Groom and their daughter, Sophia, 2, listen as former precinct chairman Steve Mickleson speaks Tuesday at the caucus for Precinct 17, held at Lehi High School.

LEHI — Lehi resident Vera Lyn Bradshaw walked into Lehi High School Tuesday evening with her children, Kenyan, 7, and Tailyn, 6, in tow to attend a Republican caucus meeting for the first time.

It was a new experience for the whole family.

"I actually want to learn more about the process. I've never really been involved in something like this," Bradshaw said. "I'd really like to capture the interest for my kids."

Bradshaw and her children attended the Lehi 17th precinct meeting and were one of many families to attend the 21 caucus meetings held at the high school Tuesday night — an event replicated in communities and neighborhoods around the state.

The caucus meetings, held every two years, are the genesis of Utah's political process. Residents vote for delegates — often their neighbors and friends — to attend the state and county conventions where those elected then determine which candidates are nominated to run for office.

Although the numbers at the meetings are generally small, it is an opportunity for citizens to learn more about the process.

"I thought (the meeting) was really neat," Bradshaw said. "It was really informative of how our government is run. I learned things I didn't know before."

The 17th precinct elected two state delegates and three county delegates. Bradshaw's neighbor, Jamie Besaw, was elected as the new precinct chairwoman and will act as a delegate at the state and county levels.

Besaw decided to run after taking a class about the constitution. The stay-at-home mom, who graduated from college in physical therapy, decided it was time to get involved in politics.

"I see the direction our county and state are headed and I want to be involved in helping it head a better direction," Besaw said. "I think it is important for people to get involved and find out about the process. If something bad happens and you weren't involved, you really can't complain."

Besaw said that the local caucus meetings are the place where people really can make a difference.

The meeting lasted a little more than an hour, and the voting was done with slips of paper. A high school student counted the votes to determine the winners.

"If you care who will be in office, then you need to at least make the minimum effort to come to these meetings every two years and share your opinion and put yourself out there," Steve Mickleson, the former Lehi 17th precinct chairman, said.

E-mail: lriddle@desnews.com